We sat down with Eric Craig, owner of Eric Craig Studios, Inc. and photographer of the 16th annual 2017 Chicago Sculpture Exhibit. He photographed fifty sculptures for this year’s city-wide event celebrating public art in Chicago, which was no small task. We learned what pushed him to become such an accomplished Chicago artist and what’s driving him forward.
Picking Up the Camera
Growing up Eric Craig was always creatively inclined, describing his interests in painting, drawing, and crafting creations with Legos. Growing up his father shot black and white photography and had a dark room in the basement. Craig attended Savannah College of Art and Design on a scholarship and while he took a few photography classes, he skewed toward the artistic elements of drawing, painting and design. It wasn’t until he transferred to Southern Illinois University and took photography classes that he reconnected with the creative foundation his father’s interest laid.
His talent and professional connections landed him a position as creative director at Catersource, where he took photos at events across the country for their magazine. He realized his passion for telling a story using his photos, “I got to the point where I enjoyed the photography so much more and just went full force with it and started Eric Craig Studios, Inc. in 2003. Ever since then I’ve been fine tuning my talents and branching out to different areas.”
Working with Artmill
While curating landscape shots of Antelope Canyon for a recent restaurant project, Eric Craig looked at options for canvas, metal prints, and acrylic. Craig found that we specialize in acrylics and was impressed with the level of quality from Artmill, which made it a simple decision to work with us.
Craig describes the restaurant industry as having many people coming and going. A stretched canvas work can receive a lot of wear and tear in a restaurant setting, whether because of guests or miscommunication when directing staff how to care for the art.
“The nice thing with the acrylic is that it’s sealed, so for restaurants it is a great medium. It also holds that vibrancy and color. That’s why we ended up going with acrylic and we were happy with what Artmill created.”
Craig came into our offices and collaborated with our printer hands-on to assure the color correction and image quality was on point to meet the project’s needs. “It’s great to be able to walk into a place. To be able to see the operation and evolution of the project. I felt at ease through the whole process.”
Finding a trusted acrylic mounter wasn’t his biggest hurdle. Often, Craig applies his expertise to advise a client to choose the right artwork in the right size. In a brand-new space, even a high-resolution image may not look good if it’s blown up big. Craig expressed, “They have a vision for the space, but they don’t know what they want there. I help them clarify that vision and see the scale to get a better idea.”
Craig speaks the same language as designers and has the familiarity with technical aspects of art and design that allows him to work with his clients. By recognizing the client and designer vision, his photography can fill the gaps in an array of designs. “80% of people walk into a place and they can’t tell you the details, they just know they like it or they don’t, if it works or not. The rest is up to the designers.”
Photography is Craig’s career, but also feeds heavily into his everyday life. While on the island of Majorca in Spain, Craig stumbled across what may be his favorite shot to date. “There’s this big church in downtown Palma and I was walking around by this courtyard with swans. I looked to my right and there’s this archway with the light shining through a gridded door, casting down a shadow. I had my camera of course and it’s one of my favorite shots.”
Craig shared his story about a Chicago skyline shot that now hangs in Dave Byers’s Lincoln Square Restaurant Fork. “It was a very cold Chicago January night and the temperature was twenty-six below zero. I’m watching the news and they had views of the lakefront, which instantly connected with me. I grabbed my tripod and gloves and my wife drove me down to the planetarium. The water was completely frozen over. The skyline cast a reflection onto the water with all of these orange hues. It was so cold and still. I took this long exposure of the skyline to capture the moment.”
Craig’s next steps include continuing his work with the fine arts community while growing his own ultra-luxury division. His focus is branding himself for residential and large commercial installations.
“My passion and my goal of what I really want to do is fine art. I love the impact it gives when large scale art or sculpture is out there. I’m interested in pushing the boundaries with interior designers and architects.”
Find more of Eric’s work at ericcraigstudios.com